how to draw braids

How to Draw Braids – Create Your Own Braided Hair Drawing

Learning how to draw braids is interesting because it is as if you are learning how to draw silky rope. Learning how to draw hair in various ways is always a helpful skill to have and braided hair is a fun and quirky addition to character design. In this easy braid drawing tutorial, we will also learn a few tips and tricks that we can utilize within our shading process for various other drawing ideas. A braided hair drawing teaches you a unique way to shade a structure and emphasize its shadow and light.



An Easy Guide to Drawing Braids

Braided hair is a simple structure to draw, as the formation and shading process of a braided hair drawing can be done in a few digestible steps. In this easy braid drawing tutorial, we will find that the process of outlining and working in the shadows and highlights is really easy. Braided hair can be drawn in a variety of ways and in this easy braid drawing tutorial, we will work on forming the structure and applying details to the hair in a few simple steps.

Once you know the process of how to draw braids, you can then practice in your own time and the drawing process will eventually become second nature. We will only need simple materials for this easy braids tutorial.


Necessary Materials

A braid drawing may seem complicated, but it is a very easy structure to draw. We want to know how to assemble the structure from a simple sketch into a refined and realistic braid drawing. The process of drawing braided hair can be done within various mediums, however, in this tutorial, we will be using a simple set of tools.

We want to work with an HB and 2B pencil to work out a braid sketch first, focusing on the form of the braided hair structure at first.

We want to make sure that we have an eraser and a sharpener to assist us along the way in case we make any silly mistakes. We will also be using a ballpoint pen to enhance the contrast between highlights and shadows within the braided hair structure. All materials can be found through the links below:

  • HB pencil
  • 2B pencil
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Good paper (200 g/m – 250 g/m recommended)



Once we have all our materials ready, we want to start preparing ourselves within an appropriate environment to focus on. We want to also mentally prepare for the tutorial ahead, making sure we are ready to focus on each step for this easy braid drawing tutorial.

The task at hand is not difficult, but it does require some attention to the drawing process. A good suggestion is to listen to some music. We want to relax and enjoy the process. Now that we are prepared, let us see what we should expect.



Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Draw Braids

In this tutorial on how to draw braids, we will find that the process of drawing braids is quite simple. Firstly, we will work with our pencils to create a light braid sketch, making sure we have the form drawn correctly. From there we will work on some detail and light shading. We will then move on to using a ballpoint pen to enhance the shadows and highlights within the hair structure, making sure that we enhance the silky-smooth quality of the hair.

Now that we know what to expect, we can get started on this tutorial on how to draw braids.


Step 1: Shaping the Head and Hair

We want to start by drawing a basic circle on our page using our HB pencil. We want to establish the area in which the head will be drawn. It is completely up to us regarding what size we would like to draw the head shape.

braid drawing 02 Once we have outlined the head, we will now draw a thick vertical rectangular shape connected to the bottom of the circle. This will indicate the space in which the braids will be drawn.

We want to make sure that the rectangle is long enough for a few knots within the braids.


Step 2: Adding Light Details

We now will proceed to add some details to the drawing that indicate the flow of the hair. We can do this by partitioning the hair into three main sections on the head.

From there, we want to draw a zig-zag line down the center of the vertical rectangular shape.

braid drawing 03 From here, we want to add some line work with our Hb pencils within the three major partitioned sections within the hair on the head. We want to make sure that one of the partitions connects to the top of the zig-zag line that moves down the center of the rectangular shape.

braid drawing 04 We want there to be three major lines within the hair that establish three major partitioned sections within the hair. This will create the three-section braided hair effect. We want one of those lines to connect to the top of the zig-zag line.

This will create a series of knots moving down the hair.

braid drawing 05 From there, we want to simply draw arched lines that curve upward into the hair until they reach the hair. Every time we curve the line in an upward direction, it will create a folding-in-on-itself effect. This will establish the braiding effect within the braid drawing.

braid drawing 07 We want to make sure we take time working on the pencil braid sketch, making sure we capture the quality of the hair knots as effectively as possible. By doing this, we will make it much easier for ourselves.

This will be easier once we move on to using a pen for finer and contrasted shading.


Step 3: Adding Details with Pencil

Once we have established the hair structure and worked out the pencil braid sketch, we can now use our HB pencils to slowly add details to the hair. We want to use a line-stroke action to create shadows within the hair structure.

We do this by drawing a series of strokes that start from each knot within the hair.

braid sketch 08 We want to consider where the hair folds in on itself within each knot, and from there is where we will add lines into the hair. By adding lines to the ends of each visible knot, we will leave some open space in the middle of each section of hair.

This will create a highlighted-shine effect.

braid sketch 09


Step 4: Adding Pencil Shading

As we go through each knot within the braid, we want to lightly sketch lines into each braided knot. Really, what we want to do is create a hair effect within the drawing, which we can achieve by using lines.

We add these lines into each overlapping section within each knot in the hair.

braid sketch 11 As we add these lines to each knot within the hair, we want to make sure that we leave some negative space within the middle of each knot. By leaving some space in each knot, it will create highlights within the hair.

Shading hair is not like shading other objects, as hair is quite specific in its structure. We want to approach drawing hair quite literally within the braided hair drawing. We do this by adding in a series of lines over and over again.

By doing this, we will create the effect of many strands of hair tied together.

braid sketch 13 Consider each knot as you add in lines to create the effect of hair within each knot. Each knot folds in on itself, which means that there will be slight shadowing near the overlapping areas. We represent the shadow and hair by adding lines, starting from each overlapping section within each knot.

This means that as we add pencil marks to each knot within our braid drawing, we want to make sure that lines are darkest near every overlapping section. This will leave the middle section of hair within each knot lighter and less shaded.

By doing this, we will give the hair dimension and a more realistic effect.

braid sketch 15 We want to work out the line work with our pencils during the early stages of the pencil braid sketch part of the tutorial. We want to make sure that we add these details to the braids drawing with a pencil, getting a grip on how to add lines and leave open space within the hair.


Step 5: Adding Pen Shading to the Head

We will now proceed to add shading to our braids drawing using a pen. We want to follow the same process, basically using the pencil marks to guide the pen shading process. We want to make sure we take our time with this.

At this step, slowly add lines into the hair.

easy braid drawing 16 The process of working lines into the hair that sits on the head follows the same concept, where we shade from the edges of the head and leave light highlights in the middle of the hair. We really want to take our time when using a pen as it is more susceptible to silly mistakes. As you shade the hair that is situated on the head, we want to make sure that we add the darkest lines along the edges of the head.

We also want to add dark lines near the areas of the knots where they overlap over one another.

easy braid drawing 18 Think of it as adding in hair strands one by one, it sounds tedious but it will result in a beautiful and realistic braided hair drawing. Remember to take your time and take a break if you need to refresh your attention to detail. Adding shading to a braided hair drawing should take time. Again, we want the darkest sections to be near the areas where the knots overlap.

We want to also keep the lightest sections in the middle, which means we will have dark lines at the ends of each knot or section of hair.

easy braid drawing 20 As we add these lines, we can achieve the dark-to-light gradient by using a flick-of-the-wrist type action. As you add in lines from the edges, you want to press hard, and as you flick the pen, you can lighten your touch.

You must take your time with each section of hair in your drawing as you attempt to create shadows and highlights by adding lines. Each section within the hair of the drawing should have a moment of shine to it. 

We create this by adding darker lines to the ends or overlapping sections within the hair.

easy braid drawing 22 We want to make sure we add the details to the hair on the head before moving down through each knot of the braided hair. Take your time with adding the pen details into their hair on the head, making sure you work out the different sections in the hair with line-shading.

If you take your time adding in lines within each major section in the hair, we will slowly see the shadows and light form within the hair more distinctly. Again, the hair is sectioned off into three major parts, we want to work in these dark and light lines within each section.

Do this before moving on to the next step.

easy braid drawing 24 Before we move on to the individual knots within the braid, we want to make sure we create dark and light sections within the hair on the head. Remember to follow the form and shape of the head with the lines you add to the head.


Step 6: Adding Pen Shading to the Braids

We now can add details to each knot within the braided hair. This is a more simplified version of what we have just done with the hair on the head.

We want to make sure we follow the same drawing process of adding lines into each knot, having the darkest lines situated near the overlapping sections of each knot.

braided hair drawing 27 We can also add in some light little rouge hairs around the head and knots. This will create a realistic effect of a few hairs being displaced from the braids. Again, we want to go through this process slowly, taking our time with our pen. Adding pen lines to the braided hair drawing can easily go wrong, so take your time and concentrate.

Make sure you take a break if you feel fatigued. The drawing process can easily become strenuous and it’s always a great idea to take a break so that you come back to the artwork with a refreshed mind.

braided hair drawing 31 As you add in these pen strokes, remember that the flow of the hair is in an arched shape. This means we want to make sure that the hair strands or lines move in that arch direction. As we slowly add in these lines, we should start to see the hair coming to completion in its details.

You can always darken the shadowed areas by going over the lines with more lines to give the braided hair drawing more contrast.

braided hair drawing 33 We can continue with this process of slowly adding lines to each knot of the braided hair. Make sure you go through the drawing slowly and make sure you complete each knot one at a time. And there you have it! How to draw braids in a few simple steps. A braided hair drawing is more a matter of patience.

Once you have the drawing process down, it’s simply about taking your time and being patient.



Tips to Remember

  • Work out the pencil sketch first. You want to make sure that you have the pencil braids sketch complete before moving on and using a pen
  • Use lines for shading in the hair. Drawing braided hair is different from drawing other objects, we represent the shadows and highlights by using lines
  • Take your time. Remember, we are literally drawing strands of hair, which means it should take some time.
  • Take a break. The drawing process can get strenuous, so remember to take a break.
  • Use the flick of the wrist. As you learn how to draw braided hair, you will find that the use of the flick-of-the-wrist helps to create a seamless line gradient between thick and thin.


The process of drawing braided hair is not difficult, it just takes time. Once you understand the formation process using the zig-zag line it is quite easy to develop the braid sketch. Once you have the shape of the braided hair, it is simply a matter of adding n a set of lines to create the effect of hair. As you learn how to draw braided hair, you will find that the process should take time which will lead to the best results.



Frequently Asked Questions


How Do You Draw the Knots in Braids?

Learning how to draw braids may seem complicated because of the knot style within the hair. This is quite a simple structure to draw if you use the right technique. The best way to do this is by drawing a zigzag line down the page. From there, at every point of the zig-zag line, you will draw a line in an arch shape. This arch shape will curve upward and in on itself until it connects to the previous line from the tip of the zig-zag. This process will be continued until you have created a sequence of knots within a length that you are satisfied with. You can extend this zig-zag line as long as you would like, and you then can simply add the arch-like lines at the tips of each zig-zag point.


How Do You Shade in Hair?

Once you have the general shape of the braids drawn, you will find that there are a series of knot shapes that fold into one another. We can add shading by drawing a series of lines or strokes along with the form of each of those knots. Wherever the knots stop, as they move under the previous knot, is where the lines will start from. You want to avoid extending these lines too long into each knot but rather create a set of short strokes. This will give more shadow near the overlapping sections of each knot and leave highlights in the rest of the knot. By doing this, we create light and shadow within the hair, making it more three-dimensional in its structure.


Cite this Article

Matthew, Matthysen, “How to Draw Braids – Create Your Own Braided Hair Drawing.” Art in Context. June 23, 2022. URL:

Matthysen, M. (2022, 23 June). How to Draw Braids – Create Your Own Braided Hair Drawing. Art in Context.

Matthysen, Matthew. “How to Draw Braids – Create Your Own Braided Hair Drawing.” Art in Context, June 23, 2022.

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